New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci says he’ll fire everyone in the White House in a bid to root out supposed West Wing leakers. “I’m going to fire everybody, that’s how I’m going to do it,” he told reporters outside the White House Tuesday. “You’re either going to stop leaking or you’re going to get fired. If I got to get this thing down to me and [incoming White House Press Secretary] Sarah Huckabee, then the leaking will stop.” Scaramucci’s comments came two hours after he told Politico that he intends to fire Senior Assistant White House Press Secretary Michael Short on the suspicion of leaking—a revelation he then declined to confirm and blamed other leakers for revealing. “The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic,” he told reporters. Scaramucci’s has begun a “purge” of the West Wing on the pretense of identifying leakers—whom he branded as “unpatriotic”—but he’s largely targeting White House employees with close ties to outgoing Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. In doing so, he’s carrying out the impulses of President Trump, who has grown increasingly dissatisfied with many of the professional operatives around him—which is why he brought on Scaramucci, a political novice, to begin with.
Scaramucci defended himself from charges that he was a leaker when he worked on the Jeb Bush or Scott Walker presidential campaigns in 2016. “[It] isn’t true,” he told reporters, before suggesting that his behavior was different from those leaking inside the White House. “But it’s a very different thing—a campaign—than running an administration and the American government.”
Scaramucci also weighed in on Trump’s ongoing row with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he called “VERY weak” Tuesday. Trump wants Sessions to quit, Scaramucci said Tuesday, citing Trump’s frustration over the Russia probe and Sessions’ recusal. “We’ll get to a resolution shortly,” he added.
At the time of his hiring, the White House made clear that Scaramucci reports directly to Trump, providing him an outsized role among the senior staff. Now, with a mandate from the president to fire those suspected of being disloyal or otherwise, Scaramucci is beginning to sound more like a de-facto Chief of Staff.
Trump will face questions on Sessions and the state of his West Wing Tuesday afternoon when he holds a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri.
In other news: The Senate is set to vote on a motion to proceed to the consideration of its healthcare bill—though the precise legislative strategy is still up in the air. Even with Sen. John McCain’s return to the Senate, it’s unclear whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the votes. Vice President Mike Pence will be on hand to break a tie should one arise.
Here are your must reads:
Senate Braces for Health Showdown With McCain on Hand but a Plan Unclear
Can they get the votes [New York Times]
How Democrats Lost Voters to Trump—and Might Win Them Back
A populist economic message could be key to recapturing some of the estimated six million who voted for Obama in 2012 but Trump in 2016 [Wall Street Journal]
Trump Asks About Firing Sessions, Calls His Position ‘Weak’
How long will Sessions stay? [Associated Press]
Unrest Bubbles Among Trump’s Key Foreign Policy Aides
McMaster, Tillerson under fire [Reuters]
New Communications Director Moves Toward Possible Staff Purge at White House
Priebus’ position weakened [Washington Post]
“You’re probably right.” — Incoming White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci to radio host Hugh Hewitt on whether Trump wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions gone
“I’m gonna put ‘em out on Pennsylvania Ave, I think it’s a very clear thing. Do you want to sell postcards to the tourists outside the gate or do you want to work in the West Wing? What do you want to do?” — Scaramucci on his message to “leakers”
Bits and Bites
When he travels, Trump favors states that voted for him [Associated Press]
GOP Congressman Blames ‘Female Senators’ for Obamacare Repeal Failure [Associated Press]